This post-screening discussion was hosted by the Walker Art Center as part of its Civic Engagement Initiative to encourage dialogue around topics of importance to the Twin Cities Community. For more information on the Walkers Civic Engagement Initiative, visit learn.walkerart.org.
David Strathairn was born on January 26, 1949 in San Francisco, California. His father was a physician and he has one sibling, a brother Tom. He attended Williams College, where he demonstrated great interest in the theater, and first befriended John Sayles, with whom he would later frequently collaborate. Strathairn graduated college and traveled to Florida to visit with a grandfather, but the grandfather passed away while Strathairn was en route. Strathairn, finding himself freshlyarrived and without friends in Florida, decided instead to join the Ringling Brothers Clown College and subsequently worked as a clown for six months in a traveling circus.
Relocating to New York State, he spent several years hitchhiking across America to work in local theaters during the summers. During one of these summers Strathairn reunited with Sayles, and this eventually resulted in his role in the highly regarded Return of the Secaucus 7 (1980), Sayle’s directorial debut.
Thereafter Strathairn developed an extensive resume of supporting roles, which have become increasingly substantial as his stature in the industry has grown. Only a few examples of his work include an off-beat patient of the psychiatrist played by Dudley Moore in the romantic comedy Lovesick (1983), in Silkwood (1983) as Welsey, in L.A. Confidential (1997) as the enigmatic millionaire Pierce Patchett, and in A Map of the World (1999) as Howard, the husband of Sigourney Weaver’s character. Sayles frequently casts Strathairn, whose performances can be seen in Sayles’ The Brother from Another Planet (1984), Matewan (1987), Eight Men Out (1988), City of Hope (1991), and Passion Fish (1992). Perhaps most notable of his collaborations with Sayles is his superb performance co-starring with Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in Limbo (1999).
He works in television occasionally and may be familiar to television viewers as Molly’s boss in the series The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd.” (1987).
Strathairn continues to be one of the most active male supporting actors in American film today, his work is highly regarded, and he can be counted on to deliver an understated yet powerful performance. His craggy, unorthodox good looks are perhaps attributable to his mixed Scottish and Hawaiian ancestry. Strathairn lives with his wife Logan and two children in Upstate New York.
Jane Kirtley has been the Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota since August 1999. She was named Director of the Silha Center in May 2000. Prior to that, she was Executive Director of The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Arlington, Virginia, for 14 years. Before joining the Reporters Committee staff, Kirtley was an attorney for five years with the law firm of Nixon, Hargrave, Devans and Doyle in Rochester, New York and Washington D.C. She is a member of the New York, District of Columbia, and Virginia bars. Kirtley also worked as a reporter for the Evansville (Indiana) Press and The Oak Ridger and Nashville Banner (Tennessee).
Kirtley speaks frequently on First Amendment and freedom of information issues, both in the United States and abroad, including the Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, Mongolia, Hong Kong, and Chile, and writes the “First Amendment Watch” column each month for American Journalism Review.
She has received many awards and honors, including induction into the Medill School of Journalism’s Hall of Achievement in 1999; the FOI Hall of Fame in 1996, and the John Peter Zenger Award for Freedom of the Press and the People’s Right to Know from the University of Arizona in 1993.
Kirtley received her J.D. degree from Vanderbilt University School of Law in 1979. She holds bachelor’s and master’s of journalism degrees from Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism.
Charles Samuelson was born near Buffalo, New York. He graduated from Syracuse University with a BA in Medieval History and a minor in political science. He began his political career at age 12 in his fathers school board race. In college he was active in campus politics and worked on the 1972 McGovern campaign.
He has lived in the Twin Cities since the late 1970s and has worked on dozens of local and regional campaigns. He has been the executive director of the ACLU of Minnesota since 1996. Prior to working for the ACLU-MN he worked for a number of Twin Cities non-profit groups.